Why MSU social work for your PhD

Combining high academic quality, professional caring and commitment, solid preparation for a career of service and leadership, and opportunities for individual growth and educational experiences, MSU is a special place to gain a doctoral degree in social work. The PhD Program at MSU is committed to provide a solid foundation in Social Work and a strong professional identification with social work while also providing interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspectives to knowledge and knowledge application. The MSU PhD degree program has limited enrollment and admission is highly competitive. Consequently, the high quality of the student body and faculty are significant strengths of this program.

Our interdisciplinary doctoral program is a member of the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education (GADE). The program roots its students firmly in the historical, epistemological, and philosophical bases of social work. It emphasizes the development, analysis, and application of social work knowledge related to professional practice and research in selected settings and to social work education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. A Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is required for admission.

The doctoral program’s principal goal is for graduates to assume leadership positions as social work educators; researchers of social problems and socialwork intervention methods; planners, administrators, and evaluators of social service programs; and policy makers and analysts. The program roots its students firmly in the historical, epistemological, and philosophical bases of social work.

Some MSU Social Work Distinctives:

  1. MSU is one of the largest (7th largest in the USA) and academically rigorous universities in the United States. In the PhD Program, class size is very small and faculty members are accessible and interested in doctoral students. Yet, PhD students also have access to all of the activities and resources of a Big Ten University and the beauty of this special campus. MSU's PhD Program in Social Work provides the interaction and stimulus of a special program and the resources and diversity of a major world class university.
  2. MSU is the only Land Grant University in Michigan and one of the first in the United States. Land Grant universities were begun by President Abraham Lincoln for a special purpose. This means that the University and the School of Social Work are committed to access for students, high respect for teaching, preparing students for real-world professional careers, and the acquisition of the knowledge and skills to serve diverse families and communities.
  3. Passed on July 2, 1862, the Morrill Act made it possible for new western states to establish colleges for their citizens. The new land-grant institutions, which emphasized agriculture and mechanic arts, opened opportunities to thousands of farmers and working people previously excluded from higher education. The Morrill land grants laid the foundation for a national system of state colleges and universities. In some cases, the land sales financed existing institutions; in others, new schools were chartered by the states. Major universities such as Nebraska, Washington State, Clemson, and Cornell were chartered as land-grant schools. State colleges brought higher education within the reach of millions of students, a development that could not help but reshape the nation's social and economic fabric.
    The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classified the following universities as Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive. These institutions typically offer a wide range of baccalaureate programs, and they are committed to graduate education through the doctorate. During the period studied, they awarded 50 or more doctoral degrees per year across at least 15 disciplines.
  4. MSU is one of the leading Research Universities in the United States and in the world. This means that a PhD student will be in class with faculty members who are curious, engaged in building knowledge and studying important social conditions, and knowledgeable about current and historical challenges, and they bring this knowledge to the classroom. Doctoral students will gain the skills to conduct, evaluate, and implement evidence-based knowledge.
  5. The School of Social Work is connected to multiple social science disciplines through the MSU College of Social Science. PhD students have the opportunity to access courses and work with faculty members in a wide range of colleges at MSU, including the medical schools (allopathic, osteopathic, veterinary medicine, and nursing) and law school. The PhD program requires an interdisciplinary perspective and coursework while supporting strong identification with Social Work. Dissertation committees will include at least one faculty member from another department or school, while being chaired by a social work faculty member. Students are only required to meet the requirements of the School of Social Work for graduation.
  6. As one of the top 100 universities in the world, MSU is the number one public university in sending students on study abroad experiences. The PhD Program will have multiple opportunities for a global perspective and, even if one cannot go overseas, will bring a global perspective to the classroom so that a student’s horizons are expanded while their social work knowledge and skills are deepened in the PhD Program.
  7. MSU School of Social Work has a strong and diverse faculty. PhD students have access to a broad array of faculty members with multiple professional interests such that graduate students will find faculty members with interests similar to their own while also gaining an appreciation for new areas of social work practice. Students will find faculty members who can serve as mentors and future references, and they experience different learning and teaching styles to prepare them for the real world of social work practice. Faculty members in other colleges at MSU generally welcome the opportunity to work with social work doctoral students due to the high quality of our students.
  8. One of the distinctive features of the MSU PhD Program in Social Work is its inclusiveness. PhD students are invited to faculty meetings, committee meetings, and School events and parties. PhD students are viewed as future colleagues and provided a range of opportunities for teaching, research, and other projects that will advance the individual student’s preparation for their desired career. The School will work with each doctoral student to provide those opportunities that will strengthen her/his knowledge and skill base and to develop the expertise needed for future work.
  9. The MSU Social Work curriculum will provide core doctoral courses in social work but also allow for individual focus and academic development and preparation. The doctoral student will select other areas for study outside of the School, either specializing in a discipline or pursing an academic theme across departments, and an array of academic plans are available for the student. There is faculty advising and counsel in making these decisions while respecting the PhD student’s interests and plans. A dual degree program in Social Work and Public Health (PhD/MPH) may be arranged.
  10. As part of a technologically engaged University, the School provides multiple opportunities for students to creatively learn through the use of instructional technology. The School prepares students to understand and use technology relevant to social work practice of the future.
  11. As a world class major University, alumni from the MSU School of Social Work can be found throughout the state of Michigan, the nation, and in foreign countries. They are practitioners, administrators, educators, and social work leaders. This provides a network of alumni and a worldwide recognizable University that is an asset when building a professional career. The majority of MSU PhD graduates successfully pursue careers in academic settings but a number are leaders in policy and organizational administration.

These are just some of the reasons to consider getting your PhD education at Michigan State University. Go Green!